Future BMW M cars may feature all-wheel drive, electric turbos

One particular thing in Bavaria has stood the test of time for nearly half a century — BMW M cars are rear-wheel drive. But that’s about to change. The company has announced that it will adopt all-wheel drive technology in its M cars in favour of the leery rear-wheel driven hilarity currently offered.

Frank van Meel, head of BMW’s M division, spoke to Autocar (via Jalopnik) at the Detroit Motor Show and noted that the M5 and the M6 sedans may be the first cars to adopt the system.

It may sound like blasphemy, but turning the M3 into a four-door sedan back in 2013 showed the world that the M series isn’t exempt from breaking tradition.

Adding four-wheel drive to these power mad cars also makes mechanical sense, as they will benefit from better road-holding, more predictable behaviour in the corners and better traction with all four tyres biting into the surface, instead of two.

A few downsides are also inherent, of course, like a greater curb weight and less back-end fun. We’re not sure how exciting an all-wheel drive M3 would be either. Would it take the fun away from its high-revving, tail-happy nature?

Audi has used its Quattro all-wheel system to great effect in the past in its RS versions, notably the RS4, a car that has grown extremely quickly in the past twenty years. Whether BMW will adopt an adjustable all-wheel drive system or use a permanent 40:60 system remains to be seen. It is likely, (at least according to van Meel’s comments) that the cars will remain rear-biased.

Additionally, we could be in for some electrically turbocharged examples, including the X3 M and X4 M.

Could we see an electric-turbo, hybrid-drive BMW M3 in the company’s future? There’s a question I’d like answered.

Andy Walker, former editor


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